Kona on the neighboring Big Island is much better known for sport fishing, but unsuspecting offshore anglers will find Maui to be a pleasant surprise. The Valley Isle, unlike the Big Island, is not blessed with a near-shore, deep-water trench, so the deep-sea angler leaving from a Maui port will have to traverse shallower waters to reach the fishing grounds. However, after a 30- to 60-minute cruise, often in the company of humpback whales attracted to the island’s shallow Auau Channel, the fishing off Maui is as good, if not better, than anywhere else in the archipelago.
Several pelagic billfish species use the deep water off Maui to feed. Pelagic billfish are loners who travel hundreds or thousands of miles every year in a relatively predictable pattern. For you, this means that you will have better luck targeting different species at different times of year in Maui. The best time for a striped marlin bite occurs from February to May. Pacific blue marlin, the biggest of all billfish species (often weighing in at over 1,000 lbs.) begin arriving in catchable numbers during May; the bite typically lasts through September. From June through December, a deep sea angler may also be treated to the aerial acrobatics of a shortbill spearfish, which can reach 7 or 8 feet and up to 90 lbs. The occasional sailfish will occasionally be caught off Maui as well. Broadbill swordfish are also present in Hawaiian waters but must be specifically targeted, typically at night.
While hooking a marlin is a challenging thrill, many other fish in Maui waters can offer a fun fight — and a delicious meal. Yellowfin and bigeye tuna (ahi), as well was mahi mahi (dolphin fish or dorado) and ono (whaoo) are common catches on Maui fishing charters. During the appropriate season, those interested in bottom-dwelling snapper species like onaga and opakapaka can book a charter specifically targeting bottomfish. Many of these species are considered Hawaiian delicacies for their mild, flaky white meat, but overfishing has put tremendous pressure on the populations of bottom species, resulting in severe restrictions on when they may be targeted.